Overall results after operations for gastric cancer in Japan are far superior to results obtained in the US and Europe. We have reviewed the Japanese literature in an effort to determine what factors explain this difference. It appears that the survival differences are due mainly to a greater frequency of early gastric cancer in Japan; meticulous histopathologic evaluation of the surgical specimens, resulting in more accurate pathologic staging; and the presumed benefit of extended nodal dissection when it extends outside of the level of node-positive disease. Although patients with both apparent and confirmed direct adjacent organ invasion can be helped by resection of those organs, extended resections of uninvolved pancreas and spleen do not improve rate of survival beyond the benefit of improved nodal dissection. Overall, there would appear to be justification for reexamining extended nodal dissection for gastric cancer in the US. Opportunities for a meaningful national study are significant.